The New York Mets’ bullpen has been subject of criticism to being the season. Fernando Salas has already started showing signs of overwork as he and Jerry Blevins have appeared in more than half of the team’s games so far. Beyond the overwork, many other relievers have been ineffective. Hansel Robles got off to a fast start but struggled with command since. Rafael Montero has been the same Montero we’ve seen in the majors in the past, rather than the new and improved version it seemed we were getting this spring. Twice already the Mets have had to call in backup arms to give some guys a rest, first with Paul Sewald and now Sean Gilmartin. And still the Mets find themselves wasting quality outings from their starting pitchers late in games.
Another problem is that the Mets have had to play short on the bench because of the need to carry eight relievers. Ty Kelly had to be designated for assignment when Sewald was called up and T.J. Rivera was sent to Triple-A in exchange for Gilmartin.
The good news is that help is just around the corner. Jeurys Familia is eligible to be added to the roster on Thursday after serving his 15 game suspension.
The Mets have said that Familia may not close right away and will be eased back into his role. This actually works in the team’s favor. The biggest issue, barring one late game Salas melt down and one Addison Reed blip, has been the middle relief. Adding Familia provides depth in the sixth or seventh inning and could help cut down on the work of Salas and Blevins.
Certainly as a closer, Familia faced high leverage situations so it’s not something that he would be unfamiliar with. At this point it is obvious that any version of Familia, even one who may still need time to get up to speed, can’t be much worse than what the Mets have currently been dealing with.
Another potential solution is the loosening of the leash of some starters. Terry Collins has started talking about letting Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom, and maybe even Matt Harvey, start throwing more pitches and working deeper into games. So far, because of the need to stretch these guys out and conserve their health, the bullpen has often been asked to give three or four innings each game. This has contributed to the overwork factor as it has forced Salas into more games that he’s been asked to hold because the starters have been gone for two innings already or because Robles, or whoever was pitching the seventh inning, struggled. Blevins is in the same boat, as he’s been put into high leverage seventh inning spots, simply because the starter was pulled.
Perhaps with Familia arriving to stabilize the bullpen, the Mets could recall Rivera or another position player to give the team more options off the bench, while also maintaining its pitching depth in the minor leagues.